We need to be more strategic with our decision-making, maybe now more than ever before. Instead of just bringing the staff into a room and open-endedly telling them to “strategize,” use a tried-and-true formula. Last week, we introduced the model of Compass Management (Hoshin kanri) to guide your decision horizons. In Part One, we discussed how establishing your organizational vision can help develop your company’s competitive advantage. Now let’s get into the nitty-gritty of it and determine how to develop and deploy your annual objectives as you move towards your goals.
Develop Annual Objectives
Breakthrough objectives are too big to tackle in a year. Break them down into reasonable annual tasks. For example, if your objective is to develop a new product line, getting from here to there includes a lot of steps. There’s market research, product development, testing, building a launch strategy, and all that comes with bringing the new product to market.
You need to establish a timeline for the milestones you create. Build in a little cushion for all the time-sucking variables that will inevitably pop up. If you’re too gung-ho with your timelines, you’re setting yourself up for disillusionment.
Deploy Annual Objectives
Now the work begins: aligning the resources you have – human and otherwise – to deliver. Start by breaking down your annual objectives into their component parts so that all team members in all departments understand what they need to do to help.
For example, if the breakthrough objective is to be the industry leader for a new line of 0-emission buildings, everyone on your team has a role to play. There’s drafting, planning, marketing, hiring, and a hundred other jobs to do.
Set clear goals for each team – or work with teams so that they develop their own goals – and assign a spokesperson for each. Your teams don’t need details about other teams’ plans, but they should all know the big picture to prevent siloing.
Implement Annual Objectives
The rubber hits the road. Give your teams the green light, and you take the role of communicator, delegator, and keeper of the vision.
Without the adhesive “why” holding it all together, the breakthrough objectives lose their driving force. Your most important role is to reinforce the “why,” especially if it’s new to your company culture.
One of the valuable side effects of hoshin kanri is that it heralds systemic cultural change by turning vision-based goals into your team’s daily reality.
Evaluate Annual Objectives
It’s essential to structure time to evaluate the progress you and your team are making and to find ways to stay on track or course correct. A monthly and annual review process will help.
Every month, take a couple of hours with the spokespeople from each team to check-in. This is your chance to review progress, be accountable for goals made or missed, and – most importantly – ask and answer questions that have arisen from the process.
Each year perform a more extensive, half-day-or-so review that takes an annual snapshot of how the key objectives are developing. Then, once one or all of them have been put in place, set time aside to take stock of how the team has maintained and helped it grow.
The crucial thing about breakthrough objectives is often not their development, but in how they’re tailored to varying market conditions. They’re meant to reinforce your business’s vision and give it a fresh, competitive edge. To achieve the former, each tactic must remain stable and robust. To accomplish the latter, the details of your plan must be flexible so you can quickly adapt to changing times.
Managing this tension between stability and change takes practice. Be willing to learn as you go, and involve your team in ways that make sense for your business.